Skills delivery landscape: call for evidence

This call for evidence paper seeks stakeholder views on Scotland’s skills system. The information gathered will help to inform recommendations to Ministers by James Withers, the Advisor to the Independent Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape.


This call for evidence is hosted on behalf of James Withers in his role as Independent Advisor to the Scottish Government on the Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape.

Building the future system to equip our population with the skills they need to succeed is a big task. If we get it right, it will shape the kind of Scotland we want to see in future and it will ensure we nurture and unlock the potential that lies in all individuals, at all stages in their lives.

Against that context, I am pleased and privileged to have been asked by Scottish Ministers to lead this independent review of the skills delivery landscape. What do we mean by that landscape? To me, it is the complex web of touch-points that help us develop the skills we need throughout our lives. From the years we spend in education to the further training or advice we need to enter, re-enter or thrive in the workplace.

The foundation upon which we need to build a future skills system is constantly moving. We see the world changing at extraordinary speed. Our workplaces must adapt and respond to a climate emergency as well as embrace a transformation in technology. They need to be modern and fair places to work, creating an environment that allows for personal and professional success. Ultimately, the world of work must be a platform for successful and happy lives.

In my previous role as Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink and, before that, CEO at National Farmers Union Scotland, I have seen how important skills are to the success of communities and business.

Since my appointment to lead this review, I have had countless messages from people involved in the delivery of skills development programmes and those who have been recipients of them. There is a shared passion for this subject and desire to get it right. This review – and this consultation in particular – is designed to help harness that.

I approach this Review with an open mind. I am determined to be driven by evidence. We need to identify what already works well and where improvement is needed. Of course, we are also not short of reviews of many individual facets of the skills landscape, from our curriculum, or tertiary education system, to provision of apprenticeships and careers services. The review won’t duplicate work already done, rather it will consider how we structure a skills system to deliver on their outcomes.

We also not short of aspiration either. The Scottish Government has set out a bold 10-year ambition in its National Strategy for Economic Transformation. That strategy rightly identifies an effective skills system as a core ingredient of success. Hence, my task and this review.

I am spending time building my knowledge of the existing skills landscape, meeting with the public agencies at the heart of the system. I’m meeting people and organisations with experience of how the system works and views on what they need of it in future. We will hosting a series of workshops and webinars so key users of the skills system can share their experiences and their ideas for the future.

This call for evidence is to ensure everyone has a chance to share their views. I know the current system can be complex. That can make conversations around it complex too. In many ways, complexity is a natural consequence of a country trying to deliver a skills system to reflect the variety in backgrounds and experiences of our people. It also needs to deliver at multiple different points in our lives, to fuel a diversity of business sectors and communities, all in a world changing at immense speed.

However, if we step back from the complexity this really boils down to a single question: how do we build a skills landscape that is fit for the future and can unlock the potential that lies in us all?

There are several questions in this consultation spanning different aspects of the skills landscape. Feel free to answer them all, feel free to answer only one. I would ask you to look at the Part 1 in particular; it captures a few overarching questions at the heart of this review.

It is a review that really matters, so thank you in advance for taking part.

James Withers

Independent Advisor


We are inviting responses to the call for evidence by 23 December 2022.

Please respond using the Scottish Government’s consultation hub, Citizen Space. Access and respond online at: can save and return your responses during the consultation period, please ensure that responses are submitted before the closing date of 23 December 2022.

If you are unable to respond using the consultation hub, please complete the Respondent Information Form and send to:

Handing your response

If you respond using the consultation hub, you will be directed to the About You page before submitting your response. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are content for your response to published. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise. To find out how we handle your personal data, please see our privacy policy:

Next steps in the process

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public at If you use the consultation hub to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help James Withers make his recommendations on the issues concerned. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so. An analysis report will also be published.

Comments and complaints

If you have any comments about how this exercise has been conducted, please send them to



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